Smooth, sticky and the perfect pour over a stack of flapjacks, maple syrup is one of nature’s sweetest gifts. Sap is harvested from maple trees by tapping into the trunks. The collected liquid is heated, water evaporates, and a thick syrup is left behind.
Sap collection takes place in early spring, and numerous festivals have popped up to celebrate the harvest. We’ve compiled a guide to maple syrup events across Iowa. Sweet!
Botna Bend Park
Experience the fun of syruping first hand by tapping the silver maple trees at Botna Bend Park! Join the Pottawattamie County Consevation Board at their Maple Tree Tap. You’ll have the opportunity to drill your own tap and sample maple candy afterwards. Pre-registration is required by March 2, and you can register by calling 712-328-5834. The event is open to all ages, and free will donations will be accepted to fund further programs. March 5. 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Hartman Reserve Nature Center
The 31st annual Maple Syrup Festival promises to leave you full after an all-you-can-eat pancake and sausage breakfast, topped with maple syrup. Once you’ve had your fill, check out syruping demonstrations and learn fun facts about the process. Did you know it takes 40 gallons of sap to get 1 gallon of syrup? Kids can also take part in nature art activities in the Buckles building. Tickets are available at the nature center, or by calling 319-277-2187. March 5 and 6. 7 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Join the Mahaska County Conservation Board for a sweet afternoon of family fun. Sample fresh maple syrup on ice cream while staff members demonstrate how to tap trees and boil the sap. The site will also be open for exploration. Be sure to check out the black maple sugarbrush, old barn and Native American sugaring camp. Parking is available at the Eveland Access Campground, and hayracks will ride patrons up to the sugar shack every half hour. March 19. 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Indian Creek Nature Center
Kick off your weekend with a fresh pancake, sausage and real maple syrup breakfast at the 33 annual Indian Creek Nature Center’s Maple Syrup Festival. Peek inside the Maple Sugar House and learn about syruping through the ages, or check out some live music and the center’s trails. Make the day even sweeter by taking home a bottle of handcrafted maple syrup from the Creekside shop. You’ll save a few dollars by buying tickets online, but they are also available at the door. March 19 and 20. 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Great River Maple
This family-owned business specializes in 100% pure maple syrup and maple cream. They also are home to Maple Fest, an annual event celebrating the syrup. This year’s event features tapping, cooking and bottling demonstrations as well as hay rides around the sugarbrush. Come hungry for a $5 pancake breakfast! April 2.